Why All MMO Games Suck.

MMO, for those of you who don’t know, stands for massive multiplayer online game, most of which are MMORPGs or massive multiplayer online role playing games, or world of warcraft-type games.  There are a million and one of these out there, and in my experience the reason they all suck is that they are all the same game, just with different graphics.  The reason that this one crappy, crappy game that has been cloned a bazillion times (with few variations) sucks is that it’s designed not to be fun, but to take a lot of time to do nothing.  All of the ingenuity in MMO games goes into disguising the same time-wasting program as entertainment.  You get your level 1 sword, spell, gun, etc, and that’s okay for killing level one critters.  Then you kill a ton of level one critters so you can get your level 2 gun and feel a sense of accomplishment – I mean after all your level 2 gun is 20% more powerful than your level 1 gun, you’re moving on up right?  Only now you have to go to an area with level 2 monsters that are… you guessed it – 20% tougher. 

You are basically in the area you just grinded (performed repetitive actions to increase your stats, make money etc) to get past, just with new graphics.  It is in every way identical.  And the story line?  Non-existent.  There’s some crap in the beginning about some war or conflict or important quest, but isn’t felt in the game world at all.  And the tasks you receive are all the same, doesn’t matter if you’re an elf in an orc-infested wilderness or a cyborg in a futuristic dystopian landscape, the tasks are all the same – go get this thing and bring it back, go kill x number of baddies and return so you can kill Y number of these other baddies, and then z number of these other baddies, etc.  It’s as dull and repetative as working in the post office and people pay for the privilege.  Oh, but in that game it’s a mission and in this one it’s a quest!  A quest, really?  When I think of a quest I think save the fucking planet, not go kill chickens for half an hour until you find 3 randomly dropped eggs and bring them back to some guy you just met. 

All video games are fantasy, but it doesn’t work without the game being entertaining enough to allow someone to suspend their disbelief and actually get into the game world.  I am absolutely astonished that people pay money for these stupid time-wasting (and not in a good way) cloned pieces of crap.  I don’t even like to call them games because the word game implies fun or entertainment of some sort.  I hadn’t tried an MMO in a long time, and I just went through a bunch of crap to get lord of the rings online to work because I foolishly thought that since there was a fan base and it’s based on popular books that maybe it would be story-driven or some more effort would go into it.  I spent about an hour checking it out and the plot consisted of “Go kill 3 of x, then talk to y, then talk to z, then talk to A, B, C, D and E, then go look at F (at the bottom of a dungeon), then go follow a trail of flowers to see where it leads, talk to many more people and then…

You get the idea.  Go here talk to griznorb so he can tell you to talk to vandolf so he can tell you to talk to griznorb again so he can tell you to kill three monsters and report back to him.  And what are my rewards?  A level 2 bow, a level 2 sword, a level 2 piece of chest armor, level 2 gloves, and so on.  And after I got my full suit of level 2 armor I would’ve done meaningless quests to get a level 3 set of armor piece by annoying piece, followed by level 4 armor and weapons and so on and so forth.

I enjoy games where you level up, but when you get a sense that the character is actually changing somehow.  I like when a skill tree in a game isn’t just get your level 2 fireball spell to replace your level 1 fireball spell which isn’t cutting it anymore, but is actually an interesting improvement, like the ability to pick locks or hack into a terminal and turn off a camera or something.  You want a skill tree, this is a skill tree:


(From Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines)

Or how about arx fatalis where you find rune stones throughout the game which allow you to perform different spells which you draw out in front of yourself using the symbols on the runes to cast:

So that each time you find a new rune you look to your spellbook to see what new spells you can cast.  And you can even design your own spells, because you figure out x symbol means fire because it’s in all the fire spells and y symbol means missile because it’s in all the missile spells etc, so you can recombine them to make spells the game doesn’t tell you about.  Now that’s a fucking skill tree.

Or deus ex where you had trainable skills and a series of permanent augments where you had to choose which of several abilities you wanted to gain and forego the rest.    Or classic fallout:

Combine that with the post-apocalyptic wasteland-esque atmosphere and I’m a happy guy.

This kind of awesome gameplay is unsustainable in an MMO format because once you get the awesome goodies, beat the bad guys and save the girl/planet/day you stop playing… and stop subscribing.

So the whole strategy for MMOs is a business strategy – stretch out the… lets just call it a “gaming experience” as long as possible, and make as much cash as possible before they give up and go waste their money elsewhere.

The only good online games are action or strategy oriented where the whole gameplay takes place in a limited scope in a temporary instance of the game, like halo or starcraft or other deathmatch, co-op, team-based etc games.  There is no action in virtually any MMORPGs, it’s all “click the enemy to death” type gameplay.

If there was a game like the classic RPG wasteland that was online and had regular updates and minimal graphics, I would play it.  Hell, I’d pay for it.  Because the graphics in online games are basically all there is, and at the end of the day I’d rather read a great book than watch a movie with special effects, but no plot.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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19 Responses to Why All MMO Games Suck.

  1. QuantumStorm says:

    Have you tried EVE?

  2. agnophilo says:

    @QuantumStorm – Tried it when it was a beta and couldn’t get it to stop stuttering on my computer.  Thinking back I should’ve tried harder to fix it, but I was younger and less tech saavy.  Still, it involves much grinding and repetition, does it not?

  3. QuantumStorm says:

    @agnophilo – Not necessarily. Granted, there is a little bit of initial grinding that applies to all players, that helps go a long way, but some folks get by real well doing all sorts of jobs and things. When I was a n00b, I didn’t have much in the way of combat, industry or R&D skills so it took time for me to train up the skills, but in the meantime I could do other useful things like play the market (which is mostly player-driven), or snipe-bid on auctions. Piracy and scamming are also prevalent in the game, and a lot of players do really well by exploiting the human element. It’s not pretty, but that’s EVE. (http://massively.joystiq.com/2010/09/11/eve-online-player-steals-45-000-worth-of-isk-in-massive-investm/)They just released a major update that involves character ambulation, so there may be a few bugs in it, although they are releasing another patch tomorrow that might optimize things a bit.In the end, it really boils down to what sort of path you choose for your character. In some cases, there is a lot of grinding involved, but by and large, most of the players drive it towards a single goal – generate money to buy expensive ships that they either (1) strut around the block like some sort of pimped out ride, or (2) blow up in pvp combat.

  4. agnophilo says:

    Yeah.  It sounds better than many, but with many of the same flaws – but at the end of the day I’s po.  So I have to bitch about the freemium ones.

  5. daavidd says:

    MMORPGs sucks indeed. If you like Wasteland you should also play Fallout, not the new 3rd installation but the first and second.

  6. agnophilo says:

    @daavidd – Beaten both of em’  : )  Both were very good, but the second was buggy as hell, and by the time you found out you were screwed because your old saves won’t work with the patch you need to proceed in the plot : (  Still worth it though.Btw one of the guys who made fallout was one of the designers for wasteland, by the name of brian fargo (you might remember faran brygo in wasteland).

  7. LOVE Starcraft. Closest game to perfect there is, in terms of RTS

  8. Pandiie_Bear says:

    Hmm, I’ve only played a few MMOs, but I liked them for the most part. :]

  9. THANK YOU.Can’t stand MMOs. I do like the DnD engine games, but not the mass multiplayer ones (I play them on my PS2). I have PC games, but I mostly just play Age of Mythology or Neverwinter Nights. Part of my annoyance of MMOs comes from my growing up playing by myself, too, I think. I see all those people on my screen at once and it makes me want to scream. They made a Vampire game?! My friends and I used to rp Vampire back when it was Masquerade… A long-ass time ago. I need to check that out. @QuantumStorm – EVE is the one where you space travel in real time, right?

  10. I played WoW for about 2 months and had to stop. I seriously think I may have been on the verge of a divorce. My wife just didn’t understand that you have to play the damn game 8 hours a day just to accomplish a small meaningless task and 18 hours a day if you ever wanted to make it to level 60. 

  11. QuantumStorm says:

    @prettynpink628 – Sorta, I guess… there are jumpgates if that helps answer your question.

  12. QuantumStorm says:

    I should also mention two things:1. Although I really love EVE Online, I’m an RTS guy, through and through. Take away my EVE… but touch my C&C, Supreme Commander, Starcraft or Sins of a Solar Empire and I’ll cut you down.2. Love the System of a Down tracks on your playlist.

  13. vickevlar says:

    Any video game is a waste of time for a person if it doesn’t have what they want from a game. I regret buying Starcraft II because I hate sucking but don’t care enough to invest the time to actually get good, and there isn’t much else to the game beyond that competitive aspect. I don’t regret a moment of playing (and paying for) WoW even though I doubt anyone would claim it is a better game than SC. I played for about 5 years, and pretty much everyone I knew who played was self-aware about the ultimate pointlessness of in-game “achievements” and the various grinds and time sinks, but none of that mattered because it wasn’t why we played. It was just fun to be able to do something cooperatively with people you like to be with, even if whatever was accomplished was stupid. Even the occasional grind was actually fun because its mindlessness let you talk with your friends, listen to music, listen to podcasts, etc. the whole time without any real distraction. If it gives you a pseudo-sense of satisfaction, why not do it? That is just as good or better than any other time-killing activity. And of course I enjoyed the actual gameplay for both PvE and PvP. You get the point. They have worthwhile aspects if they are what you want from a game. I know that isn’t a brilliant revelation or anything, but it seems to me that most articles and blogs about MMOs tend to have an undertone that suggests that players are “duped” into playing or somehow don’t realize that they’re not having fun (this one comes to mind too.) I disagree with that and it annoys me a little haha.

  14. Aww, don’t hate on WoW and Rift.  They’re still fun, even if the storylines are a bit lacking.

  15. agnophilo says:

    @The_Aftershock_3650 – Yup, the original total annihilation was good too, though there was one sea level I couldn’t beat (where you start off on a tiny island and get attacked too soon), so I never got to the end.@Pandiie_Bear – Infidel.@prettynpink628 – Bloodlines, the 3D one, the isometric older one is boooooring.  And make sure to patch it fully, there’s a patch out there (not sure if it’s official or unofficial) that greatly reduces the loading time.  Just google “bloodlines, patch, loading time” and you should find it easy.  But yeah, HUGE game, awesome atmosphere, ridiculous morrowind/deus ex-esque amount of content and a really inventive and complex vampire mythology.  I recommend playing as a malcavian, great dialogue since your character is irrevocably insane.@AtheistInfidel – Heh, yeah.  Never did try WoW.  Don’t really regret it.@QuantumStorm – Thanks about the playlist – never got into sins of a solar empire, I’m a slow player so I think I kept dying suddenly.  But starcraft etc are great.@vickevlar – True, the interaction is the best part of those games.  But it’s usually not done incredibly well.  Much more fun to sniper a soldier out of a warthog as he’s charging one of your team in original halo : ) 

  16. Pinto17 says:

    Online games are becoming a current obsession of the game frenzy and technology savvy users. These players select the best games depending on the quality of the graphics and adventure level. The graphics almost makes it impossible to differentiate between the virtual and real world.With such progress in the online gaming sector, it is also a good prospect for an entrepreneurial venture.bubble shooter

  17. Carthago says:

    Well i have to agree with you. I am 33 and i played through my life; i play PC and Console (XBOX and PS) games since 4. And i have wasted enough time for single player games like Tiberian Sun or the Bloodlines you mentioned but i’ve played the original Fallout too. Those were games with their own rules and designs. Today (let’s call it “games” or “entertaining products” because i don’t know any better words for these piece of… you know) games are nothing but “pay know play later” ’cause there is no fun factor in any MMOs. You go there… i could just copy-paste your articles here. There is no f.uckin’ point in this kind of – how you said? – time-wasting. Did you tried Metro 2033? The storywriter, Glukhovsky insisted that THQ and 4A Games will not make it a multiplayer game. I know this is not the best argument ’cause it is not an MMO but my guts are spining if i see a multiplayer function in any kind of game. All right i played and play them once in a while with my friends on LAN but not on the Internet; at least i know for sure that they are do not cheat or use something like that, or just simple a hacked game is what i am against with my honesty gameplay-style. I tried Counter-Strike (i was in a clan in Hungary), Battlefield (up to 2142), and WorldShift (for the RTS fans out there). I just lost the fun in those games. So that is why i can agree with you. MMOs for those who are blind enough to not see the simple fact that they are the merchandise.Sayin’ all this ’cause i tried that damn WoW; the free one. Either way it is a bullshit.Well it was a long one. But i think i made my point clear as possible. To hell with MMOs 🙂 !Have a nice day to you!

  18. It’s my first time to commenting anyplace, when I got this post I thought I might also make comment due to the present wise post.games

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